Welcome to the show.I'm Carl Azuz at the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
Today, we're starting with the trip to two locations in the Caribbean Sea.The first is the island of Puerto Rico, which is going through a sort of exodus.Puerto Rico is a territory of the U.S. with commonwealth status.What that means it has its own government, though it's subject to U.S. federal laws.And even though its residents don't have to pay some U.S. federal taxes, many of them are moving to the U.S. where they will.Puerto Rico is losing its population. Why?Well, it's been in a recession, a period of economic decline for 10 years.People are leaving in search of better opportunities in the United States.And in many cases, they're not moving back.Currently, more Puerto Ricans live in the U.S. than on the island itself, and it may be on track to record the greatest exodus in its history.
Seventy billion dollars. Puerto Rico is deep in debt, $70 billion of it, and lenders are knocking on the island door.It's a situation so bad, it's often compared to Greece and Detroit.Tax refunds delayed, home prices cratering, and the population dwindling.Four hundred forty thousand people have left in the last decade.Puerto Rico's tax base is shrinking.It's been in so-called debt spiral. That's according to its governor.And it's not just New York hedge funds that own Puerto Rico's debt.It's grandmas and grandpas who put their life savings into what they thought were safe government bonds.Filing for bankruptcy, cutting federal aid programs, the options are grim.And getting all those parties to agree on a solution would be no easy task.
The second Caribbean location visiting is the island nation of Cuba.A seven-day cruise docked in the capital of Havana yesterday.Why is that significant?It sailed from Miami, Florida.It's part of the Cold War rivalry between Cuba and the U.S.On and off travel restrictions were in place between the two nations.Those were lifted late in 2014, as part of an agreement between U.S.President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro.President Obama started normalizing relations with Cuba, saying that decades of isolating the island nation, not dealing with it economically or politically had failed to influence the communist government to improve its human rights record.Critics say Cuba's human rights record hasn't improved under President Obama's policy either.But the cruise ship that docked in Havana Monday is one example of some change between the two countries, even though this voyage almost didn't happen.
The first U.S. to Cuba cruise in nearly four decades is finally under way.One more step towards greater ties between the U.S. and its Communist-run neighbor.Some of the 700 passengers aboard Carnival's Fathom line say they feel like they're making history.